Poor Safety Practice | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 89 Issue 44 | p. 6 | Letters
Issue Date: October 31, 2011

Poor Safety Practice

Department: Letters

I finally had a chance to read through the Sept. 12 issue of C&EN and came across the disturbing photo on page 47: A photo of a young man pouring a hazardous chemical solution over his head while his teacher is watching him!

Are you kidding me?

All he has to do is to miss the funnel to have the good old sodium hydroxide solution splash all over his head and face, run down into his shirt and down his arm. This is a great way to get the ever-popular chemical burn all over your body—and the bodies of your teacher and fellow students.

Maybe I am getting cranky in my dotage, but well over 50 years ago I was taught that this was a very bad thing to do for the reasons stated above. We were taught to remove the burette from the clamp and lower it into a lab sink before refilling. That way, the funnel was well below eye level and any spilled reagent went into the sink. By tilting the fingertips downward, below wrist level, any spilled chemical flowed down toward the fingertips and ran down the burette instead of down your arm. Raising the index finger slightly lifts the funnel off of the mouth of the burette to avoid any air lock and helps to avoid overfilling it.

By D. C. Myers
Pittsfield, Mass

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © American Chemical Society

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